Remembering Patriot's Day...Six Years After 9/11

  • Published
  • By Col. Kris Beasley
  • 82nd Training Wing vice commander
As hard as it is to believe, six years have passed since the traumatic events of Sept. 11, 2001, when 19 terrorists attacked our country and murdered thousands of innocent people in New York, Washington D.C. and in a field in Pennsylvania.

The attacks forever changed us as a nation and made us realize that while we are a superpower, we are not invulnerable to attack by those who want to take our freedom from us and who do not value human life as we do. Everyone, even those in grade school on that day, can remember where they were and what they were doing when they first heard the news, and for most Americans, the images we saw on television that clear September morning are forever burned into our minds.

As a nation, we watched the slow and somber search and recovery work at the crash sites and felt great sadness for the families and friends of those who had lost loved ones. In fact, we felt a national loss, for the thousands of souls killed and for our pride, power and freedom. Airlines were grounded, buildings were locked tight and the lines to get on military bases across the country were long as we went to Force Protection Condition Delta.

But the terrorists did not succeed in their goal. We didn't let the horrific acts tear our nation apart. In fact, their actions brought Americans together like nothing had since the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Everywhere across the country, flags came out, patriotism soared and people came together in a common reaction reflected in a phrase we heard and saw everywhere: "United We Stand." Many of us in the military immediately began to work on plans to improve the protection of our nation and its vital resources such as air and sea ports, military bases, government offices and our commercial infrastructure and markets.

We also quickly planned and executed a campaign to strike the terrorist training areas and safe havens in Afghanistan.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we couldn't imagine when the sorrow and anger wouldn't dominate our every thought. But, as people always do, we started to move on with our lives and think of that day and its intense emotions less and less.

As each year goes by, the event fades a little further from our mind. The heroism and sacrifice of the first responders who rescued so many from the destruction; the bravery of the passengers who stopped the hijackers on the fourth flight; and the sorrow of the families who lost loved ones are not in the forefront of our minds every day like it was.

But we cannot afford to ever forget the signal event of our generation, for what happened on 9/11 shows in a bright and searing light the stark difference between liberty and tyranny.

We cherish liberty and respect every person's right to their freedom, while the terrorists abhor liberty, and want to bring all the world's nations under their form of tyranny. In the years since 9/11, we have embarked on a global war against terrorism, fighting for freedom and for our way of life - just as our forefathers fought to free us from the tyranny of a distant king.

We are not fighting against any country or any religion or any people, but rather against those who serve the cause of oppression and tyranny. Some think this is a battle against Muslims, but it is not. Some think this is a battle against a few terrorist groups or even a particular set of terrorists and their followers, but it is not. Our ongoing struggle is against people who oppose freedom, who want to mandate their beliefs and way of life, who want to dictate how we live.

Very simply, the terrorists we fight want to rule the world in it's entirety. They do not value human life in the same way we do and have no compunction about killing innocent civilians or using weapons of mass destruction. They must, and will, be defeated.

If we are to preserve the freedom that our fellow citizens have fought and died for over the last two centuries, and are still doing so this very day, we must never forget what happened on 9/11 and we must continue our unrelenting fight against terrorists until we win. I'm very proud that on this, the sixth Patriot's Day since 9/11, Team Sheppard came together and paid tribute to our fallen citizens and remembered their sacrifice in the cause of freedom.